Category Archives: Science


I was going to post about the supposed impacts of too many pesticides, or the sad effects of poverty on the young brain, but since it’s still a touch cold and cloudy up here, I decided to go with something lighter. Take that, SAD!

So. Ants. Ants in space. This really seems like the dominant species in so many ways. First, their numbers are in the trillions, and their strength is beyond that of any person who’s ever lived. But there’s something else that makes them at least seem superior: Ants are dedicated to their communities through working together and perseverance. Even in zero gravity.

Creatures other than humans have traveled into space for decades, as anyone raised on the Muppets will remember:

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Backwards Time Birthday

spacetime birthday cakeIt’s my birthday, and I’m now months short of the age my mother was at my birth in 1980.

This has been a year in which I’ve reconnected with earlier versions of myself, and I dig it.

Also to be dug is this article on the Backwards Time Mirror Universe. It’s about a “parallel” universe where we’d perceive time to run backward. It’s a little over my head, but so awesome, and fitting, considering the statement of the last paragraph.

Oh, and I’m going to my first real hair appointment in four years (to the day). This is very exciting. If the snow keeps holding off and the sun peeks out for even a few minutes, it’ll be another great December 10.

Happy Wednesday!

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“A Level of Connectivity”

the carina nebula

The Carina Nebula

Those of you who’ve been visiting for a while likely remember my passion for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and its predecessor from 1980.

Lately, I’ve had a hankering to watch the episodes again. Not sure if it’s the cooler weather, or just the way Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson spin tales of science and history in such assuring, calm voices.

Maybe it something to do with humankind landing on a comet. Whaaaaaaaaaaat?!?

I was reminded of all this the other day when a friend shared a brief statement from NDT – puts a few things back into perspective, and makes me feel connected to the planet, the universe, and you.

Cosmos is on Netflix now. I highly recommend it for group or solitary viewing on those long winter nights, when we simply can’t be outside staring at the stars ourselves. How incredible that we have such information and imagery available to us.

Also, today would have been my dad’s 69th birthday. I’m certain he would have been a big fan of the new Cosmos, and in that thought I have a whole new level of connectivity.

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Vampire Stiinta

vampire man fangs woman neck

This time of year is about celebrating the spooky, the scary and embracing the fears that make us all human.

Of course, I might be a touch excited, because I’m about to go to New Orleans, and everyone knows that city is awash with vampires – revenants, Nosferatu, the undead. Never sparkly; never vegetarian. These Ricean beasts characterize NOLA, and I can’t wait to reconnect with them in my 16 year old imagination, and mentally run a little wild in the heat of the swampy south.

But, of course, I’ve also learned a few things about where these creatures came from, and why they so haunt us, even after their reworkings and mainstreaming at the hands of certain authors. Also, it’s Wednesday. So, science!

Following are links describing various musings on why vampires are with us. Some suggest they only exist in the mind, while others proclaim they walk among us for real. All are entertaining:

The Science of Vampirism

The Science Behind the Myths: Are There Clinical Explanations for Vampires, Zombies or Werewolves?

Rabies: A Possible Explanation for the Vampire Legend

Vampire Science: Young Blood Recharges Old Brains

New Orleans Vampire Association

So much more is out there on this stuff. You will quickly see that vampires are a lot more than monsters born of superstitious mentality.

Now, for something a little more romantic, or at least completely scientifically unhinged, check out my own attempt at vampire fiction.

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Fruit Fly Fascination: Genetics

close up fruit fly resting

Isn’t it cute, this little cousin Drosophila M.?

Long ago, when I worked in an office and for someone other than myself, I wrote an article about genetic nomenclature.

The main point was that, since humans share significant quantities of DNA with fruit flies, much of genetic research involves studying and naming fruit fly genes. The article also discussed how irreverent gene names are humorous in the case of fruit flies (Buttonhead, Cheap Date), but might be less so in the context of human genetics and epidemiology.

While I don’t link to these old articles as a matter of personal principle (aka stubbornness), I will say the research for many of them introduced me to fascinating ideas on health, nutrition, science, fitness and more. It was in that job, and in spite of it, that I came to know my inner science nerd.

So that’s basically my lead-up into a cheat post – things are busy, and so today I give you a link. Take yourself to this piece on delaying aging in fruit flies with the flip of a gene, and get intrigued with ideas about healthier aging.

Even if you don’t read the article, please walk away with this: science and medicine are endlessly fascinating, and always investigating new ways to potentially make our lives healthier, more comfortable and longer. Not to say that every endeavor is without its drawbacks, but this is what differentiates us from the victims of the so many terrible diseases. For the sake of our children, grandchildren and ourselves, we owe genetics (and these fruit flies) a nod.

Oh, to see the medical capabilities of the 22nd century. Imagine how much we have yet to learn. As summer wanes, and we swat the last of the fruit flies from that lovely seasonal produce, remember that he or she might hold the key to the next big medical answer.

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Space Guru Sagan

carl sagan up close sittingI’ve mentioned Carl Sagan here and there, especially with the release of the new Cosmos.

A while back, I added this quote to the closing of my email signature, and the words continue to take on new and deeper meaning as I learn more about the universe(s?) and our position within it:

“The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.”

Although I recognized Sagan as the driving force behind the original Cosmos series, I knew very little about the man himself. In recent months, I’ve extended my interest to his widow and collaborator, Ann Druyan, an accomplished writer and enthusiast of her own merit.

Yesterday, while catching up on the March issue of Smithsonian, I turned to an article I’d forgotten was nestled within the magazine. I admit to still be working my way through it, but so far, it’s been a great insight into the man himself. I love how Carl Sagan is this guru space orator whom we put on a pedestal and, at the same time, a mere human.

I wish I’d been aware enough to pay attention while the man was still living, but feel so fortunate to exist in an era that’s open to not only his knowledge, but his musings.

So, why is Carl Sagan Truly Irreplaceable?

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Medical Magic

computer generated organ nerve tissue

Between work, a family medical emergency and a nasty cold, it’s been a wild few days.

Everyone survived, and we’re all on the mend. Blogging, however, is taking a backseat to the above demands.

So I give you this: Medical science has seemingly caused organ regeneration in mice through DNA manipulation. Basically, by tweaking one gene, researchers brought youthful vigor to an aging thymus. We all have a thymus, and it is key to a well functioning immune system.

“Living Organ Regeneration ‘First’ by Gene Manipulation”

Implications? What if we could turn back the clock on the human ticker? What if we could make 70 year old organs function like they did 50 years in the past?

My mind is blown so often these days…

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Required Watching

Cosmos eye in the sky logo opening

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me once again mention the new Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson and an amazing opportunity for free, entertaining education.

Three episodes have now aired, and are available to you, without commercials, online 24/7. Adults and children alike are experiencing the beautiful and fascinating presentation of science and humanity that is Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Happily, so much more is to come. Like, 10 more episodes to come.

I’ve enjoyed all of it immensely, even those times that I tried to watch late at night and ended up falling asleep. NDT has a very soothing voice… it’s like the universe’s best bedtime story. The visual, audio and content are just beyond words. This stuff is epic – and real.

Further, I feel I owe it to myself, my daughter and my society to participate in this happening. Although the subject matter is literally, in part, light years away, numerous aspects of it take place within our atmosphere, and within our bodies. The work that people like Tyson are doing enlivens the past, clarifies the present and, hopefully, guides our future. Maybe a grade-school viewer will be inspired to help us one day breathe cleaner air. Maybe a high school babysitter will share some of what she’s learned with wide-eyed charges. Maybe someone who’s never heard the real, undeniable facts of evolution will encounter a new, fuller kind of spiritual experience. Cosmos provides the opportunity, and we have the choice to seize it.

All you have to do is watch.

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Gold Spheres – Cancer’s Silver Bullet?

tiny gold balls white background

It is the nature of my anxiety to manifest in what I lovingly call a cancerphobia.

Because of this, I listen a little more intently when scientists bring up a potential treatment – something that destroys those evil cells without taking out all the good ones.

Yesterday, as I pumped my arm and caught up on the February issue of Smithsonian, I came across a new hopeful glimmer (literally, sort of) in the “Phenomenon” section. In a nutshell, doctors are experimenting with injecting gold covered, spherical nanoparticles into cancerous tumors, blasting the spheres with near-infrared light, and letting those nanoparticles contaminate the tumor with heat.

Learn the rest in the Smithsonian article, “How Doctors Are Harnessing the Power of Gold to Fight Cancer.”

I mean, aren’t modern science and medicine amazing? Better, they find a trial that seems almost artful, bringing in the most sought after metal in history to possibly save us from the scourge of our time. That’s poetry, m’dears.

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Lakes of Ice Beneath Blankets of Stars

Holland State Park Lake Michigan

Just a note to say we had a great weekend full of ice and stars.

On Saturday we got together with my sister and her husband, who live relatively close to the shoreline of Lake Michigan. If you’re not from the area, you might not know that the Great Lakes have come close to freezing solid this winter (not the norm; thank you, polar vortex). The result is a landscape vastly different from the familiar sand and water of the summer.

In the picture above, most of the people you see are walking on the lake. Not on the beach. On the lake. The hills and ridges are waves, and the green and white tower is the end of a pier. It was very surreal. From atop those waves, we could see moving water… way out on the horizon.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Martian Sunrise Sunday was a day my husband and I have anticipated for literally years. The new ‘Cosmos’ with Neil deGrasse Tyson premiered on network television, and it was so cool. We weren’t able to concentrate as fully as we’d have liked (because, toddler), but it was still fantastic to be a part of this thing. We even made NDT’s own astronomy themed cocktail: The Martian Sunrise. Can’t wait to see what comes next.

To your week!

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